Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Carney Speaks and everyone...yawns..

OTTAWA—Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney kept borrowing costs unchanged Tuesday but used his rate announcement to warn debt-burdened consumers that today's low interest settings won't last too much longer.

Citing a precarious world economic outlook, the central bank held its trend-setting overnight interest rate at 1 per cent in an effort to sustain Canada's rebound from the global recession.

But Carney took the opportunity to alert Canadian consumers, businesses and financial markets that he will “eventually” have to take steps to drive up borrowing costs to slow inflation.

Above form the Toronto Star..

Is it just me, or are the rest of you getting a bit tired of Carney. He sounds like a parent who keeps telling his kid that if the kid doesn't smarten up, he will take away his allowance. Meanwhile the kid has gone from truancy to breaking windows and finally using hard drugs and all the while mummy Carney is standing there wagging his finger and threatening to..do something!

Meanwhile it is savers that are getting the beating. 1% rates when inflation is well over 2%. so what to do. Put it in high dividend stocks like YLO and lose 50% of your money in a year? Or buy bank stocks and hope for the best?

..or better still just spend the danged stuff and borrow more to spend. But be careful, Carney may, possibly, inevitably do something..

..Just do it- or shut up.

What Would Jesus Do?

I found this book at a thrift store when E. was a baby, and knew that someday I would read it to him(& S.R.:o)
(found at Amazon.com HERE)
We started reading it this morning at breakfast, and my kids are hooked. We have made it to Chapter 6 so far. In Chapter 2, some of the children in the story are singing "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." While I was reading the story, I sang this part.
So far, the story is emphasizing the importance of helping those in need.
Well mommy was in need this afternoon:o) 
Yesterday, E & S.R. thought it was a great idea to take all of the games out of the cabinet and "explore" them. Not a single piece was left in it's original box.
After lunch today, it was their responsibility to pick up all of the pieces.
I left them to do their work, and I heard E. start singing the song...and then S.R. chimed in. It was music to my ears. Just another reminder of why God should be and is the focus of our home.
My two little angels singing about their Jesus....can it get any better than this?:o)
 I guess board game pieces strewn everywhere doesn't really matter that much does it?
I didn't get a chance to record them, but here is a beautiful version that I found on You Tube.
I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Fun Fest Kick Off


It's time to kick off our Summer Fun Fest. I am so excited to see what all you guys have to share. Are you excited? Just think of all the fun things our children are going to get to do this summer! 
I'll start off with sharing what we have been up to....
Last week, plans fell through with friends, and there was a threat of storms, so I had to come up with something to keep the babies occupied.
My friend Deanna hosted a Christmas crafty party last year and served some yummy marshmallows. She posted a link to these Homemade Marshmallows(a Martha recipe) on her blog. My kids love marshmallows, and I knew they would be really excited to help make them. I took care of the mixing and spreading part.
 The next morning I let them cut out their favorite shapes. E chose a bat cookie cutter for "Batman."
 S.R. chose a heart...typical little girl;o)
 Once all of the marshmallows were cut out, I coated them with a little confectioners sugar to keep them from sticking to each other.
 (We added the sprinkles just after spreading the mixture out onto the cookie sheet.)
I sent the kids outside after we got through cutting out the marshmallows
(before the storm hit;o))
and I got busy making a tent in our bonus room. They were dying to come back inside to see what the surprise was.
Nothing fancy, but it did the job!
I set out a picnic blanket with their lunch
 and of course their desserts:o)
 Can you tell they were excited about their tent?:o) I wish I could have captured S.R.'s reaction as well:o)
 They got down to the business of watching Peter Pan and chowing down on some grub.
Not a bad way to spend a yucky day, eh?
So now it's your turn! Show us what fabulous things you have planned for your summer.
Make sure to include the linky button on the left sidebar!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Favorites to Fuss About

For the past few days, I have been scouring Blogland for fun ideas for this summer. Both E and S.R. will be heading to preschool in a little over two months, and I want to have a "fantasmic" summer.
Over the next few weeks, I will be hosting a Linky Party every Monday for you to share your favorite Summer time activities. I'll share some of mine as well:o)
I will be highlighting my personal faves, so get your activities together, and come share them with us all!!






These are some great ideas to get your summer started off right. 
I am definitely going to be making this board. 

Wendy, from Craft Goodies, shares her tutorial for this activity board over at CSI 


These are homemade bouncy balls...did you know you can make these?!?!?
See how these super cool Super Balls are made over at


When I first saw these bottles, I thought they were for bowling:o) It's actually a 
Super easy and super cheap! Me like-y!
Head on over to Toddler Boredom Busters to check it out. 


These little monkeys are too cute. I wish that I had known about them when I had a Curious George birthday party for E many moons ago.
Head over to Serving Pink Lemonade for the list of supplies for these great cupcakes.


And last, but not least, Rhinestone Beagle shares a tutorial for a reusable Cloth Snack Baggie.
I will most definitely be making some of these. Wouldn't these baggies be great for a picnic...and no waste:o)


Thanks ladies for sharing your great ideas. Make sure to grab a "featured" button from the left sidebar to display on your post:o)




Photobucket

what do you think of my new "featured" button? 
I thought it was cute:o)


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Teachers Gifts

School is out, and E couldn't be happier. I think he was a little bothered that S.R. got to stay home with mommy & do all sorts of cool things:o) But he really did love his teachers and made tons of friends.

Here are the gifts that he gave his teachers.
I love vinyl, and I will put it on just about anything. Teachers need to stay hydrated, right? So why not supply them with a cute cup to keep the hydration going?

One of his teacher's is a HUGE Bama fan. So her's was easy enough to figure out.

E was so funny about the next 2:o) He said that Mrs. J loved fingers...hahaha!


And he said that Miss C loved flowers:o) Too cute!


They really loved their cups. Mrs. S even sent me an email to tell me she had been using her cup all weekend. Score!
Nothing like making someone happy with a little something special!
***
Tomorrow I hope to be starting a little something new, so stayed tuned...should be fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back from a Mini Vacay

The hubs and I spent a fantastic weekend at Callaway Gardens. It was kid-free & uber relaxing:o) He arranged everything, and I'll have to say, I don't think he could have done any better....it was PERFECT!
When we first arrived, I got sick...(not so perfect).
  I have been on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, and it's been making me icky at times.
We were supposed to start the trip off with a 2 hour bike ride, but I wasn't feelin' it, so we toured the gardens by foot & car.
Inside of the butterfly house:
 The Chapel:
 Entrance to chapel
 Stained Glass Window in chapel
 View of Lake from chapel
 Lots of pictures of the chapel, eh?
 Me taking a break to keep everything down....was that T.M.I.?:o)
 This bunny was so cute:o)
 This little guy was cute until he started blowing his chin out at me to back off....not cool! 
 The hubs and me:o)
 It's hard to see from this pic, but there were around 30 turtles coming towards me(that little red dot at the end is me). They thought I came baring gifts. See that dispenser to the right? It's full of turtle food, and you could buy some for a quarter. I felt so bad b/c we didn't have any money on us...poor turtles!
 This is one of the restaurants that we ate at.
 We sat at the far right corner. They had an amazing Sunday brunch...I had a Vegan meal. It was FATABULOUS.!
 This my friends is the post office in one of the neighborhoods of Callaway Gardens....isn't the cutest thing?!
 We eventually got around to the bike rides, and it was so much fun!

 My favorite flower!
 Cute little nook.
 Us after surviving the bike trails....we were still smiling:o)
I almost forgot to mention the 4 hours I spent at the SPA while hubs was playing golf....It was heavenly. Massage, pedicure, steam room, relaxation room, &  haircut. A girl could get use to this:o)
I am so thankful that we were able to take a weekend for ourselves. We definitely came back relaxed and ready to take on the world:o)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

HAM- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

We have a new euphemism in the Canuck language. HAM no longer means what it used to. In Vancouver, anyway, it refers to the tide of money coming out of Mainland China and into our RE market. Why is it hot? Well for several reasons. Sometimes it seems like the owners of this money cannot wait to get rid of it. It is almost like a 'hot' potato and has to be thrown at the asset as soon as possible. No time to bargain for what you want, just buy it at full price or even higher to make sure you get it.

'Hot' also because in some cases it is not clear how this money was acquired and no-one seems very concerned to find out.

Of course like any phenomenon, there are good effects and bad effects. The floods in Manitoba are a disaster now, but will probably leave rich, silty soil for good crops in future years. Ask the Egyptians who lived around the Nile, they prayed for floods to enrich their soil with natural fertilizer.

OK back to HAM. I am going to review briefly some effects, feel free to throw your own ideas in:

The Bad...

First I am going to describe an anecdote that was told to me. Since it is second hand, I cannot vouch for it's veracity, however I have no reason to doubt it and the point is illustrative in any case of others.

A professional couple were recruited by a high tech company. They had specialized skills and were brought over form the UK. He has an Indian background, she has an English. They have two kids and rented on a two year agreement while they decided what to do. After one year, the landlord said he needed to do some repairs and they would be inconvenienced. He offered up to two months free rent while they looked for a replacement. They didn't fight it, but looked around and decided to go with a one year lease this time and hoped to buy in the interim.

After a few weeks, they saw their old rental house spruced up, listed and sold. The previous neighbours said it was bought by an absentee Mainland China buyer.

Their current lease is due to expire soon (they didn't find anything reasonable to buy) and the landlords, who are a retired, local couple listed the house and almost instantly sold it. The new owners are HAM and say they do not want to rent it out, but leave it empty until one child is old enough to come here with a relative and attend school.

The couple are fed up with their housing experience, and are not wiling to mortgage their future, especially when they work in a field where mobility is essential and have asked to be transferred to one of the company's office in Western USA and work from there. It looks like the company will agree.

Net result: We lose a family who added vibrancy to our city, as well as two high paying taxable jobs. We gain two absentee owners who would rather leave the home empty (taking housing out of the stock and putting pressure on those remaining) and tax revenues have dropped.

At present they are absent and so are not using services (maybe a net gain) but when they are occupied- it is very unlikely that the owners will report all their income to be taxed in Canada while still using our costly services.

This is the downside of allowing unfettered access to our assets to anyone with money. However we are now in such a globalized world that it is very difficult to restrict anyone's access, for fear of retaliation in another area (eg lumbar)

The Good....

Lets look at the two examples above. Both homes sold for near $2M. That means the BUYER has thrown $40K per transaction into the Provincial Government's coffers. $80K just for these two. No small peanuts. The steroid-induced prices also mean that the Realtors shared $60K in commissions per transaction. $120 K for the two. Think more taxes, BMW lease payments, secretarial staff, advertising etc. There will no doubt be redecorating and furnishings which could probably add as much again.

So these two transactions have brought $4 Million into Canada and generated probably $300K in economic activity in a very short time. Almost nothing else has this degree of impact. Now you can see why Governments are very reluctant to restrict foreign ownership. Usually these transactions are also cash.

Also these properties are bought from baby-boomers. HOPEFULLY that means they will be able to pay for their own medical care and drug care and not be such a drain on the tax-purse and eventually this money will make it's way into the wallets and purses of their kids, either through debt forgiveness or down-payments on property. The windfall will get sread around in families.

The US would love to attract these investors to bail-out it's collapsing housing market and generate economic activity (for the first time in my living memory Canada has a lower unemployment rate than the US).

What we have too much of, they would like a little of!

The Ugly...

I have seen comments that we have become a resort City. People fly in, have fun, check out their properties, chat with their bankers and then fly off to go make serious money (sometimes illegally) elsewhere. meanwhile the rest of us beaver away here making sure the streets are safe and the services are run and paid for waiting for their return..

What does that sound like?

Mexico. The many resorts that we flock to, where we gorge ourselves on cheap booze and food and then leave, not caring much about the locals who are paid a pittance to wait on us and clean up after us.

Like I said in a previous post, friends, who have blue-collar jobs here, bought prime Ocean-front beachfront in Central America that the local doctors and lawyers could not afford. How could they afford that? Because our Canadian dollar is so high- due partly to the inflows of money for purchases like RE by the Chinese!

So it is all relative. We feel plundered while others feel plundered by us.

This post is just meant to start the conversation on this thorny subject and to show how complicated it is.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

I've Been Featured at Knock Off Decor!

Great News girlies! My PB Knock Duvet is being featured at






So I can proudly wear this button for the SECOND time:o)





I am a lucky girl. Be sure to go check it out. Just click on either of the buttons, and you will see it:o)

In other news....I have a busy next few days ahead of me. I am having a Princess House Party at my house tonight. It was supposed to be last week, but we had only had our power back on for 3 days. So everyone was trying to get back to normal. Since it's so close to the end of the school year, everyone is packing everything into the next 2 weeks. Not many are coming tonight(sniff, sniff), but those who are coming will have a great time and some fantastic food:o)
I hope you have a great weekend! I'll be back Monday to share with you my weekend...it's going to wonderific:o)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Printable

Summer break is just days away, and I wanted to give E the chance to hand out a little something special to all of his buds at school.
I stopped by Walmart and browsed their party section last night. There isn't much to choose from, but they did have these cute little guitar necklaces with bubbles inside. They are $2 for a 4-pack.
Here's what he will be handing out:


And if you are interested in this printable, 


then go 
HERE to download.
We are going to eat lunch with E today, and he really excited:o)
Looking forward to making his day!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ready for a Project Hiatus

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I was going to finish the bridesmaids dresses? Well, things didn't go according to plan. There were issues with the sizing chart and after sewing and ripping seams, and sewing some more and ripping a whole lot more seams....I am FINISHED!!!
Blood, sweat and tears went into making all 5 dresses.
Making those dresses put every bit of my sewing skills to the test. I did things I have never done before, and I really don't want to have to do them for a long time now:o)
I am mentally drained. But everyone seemed to be really excited about their dress. I think this is the first time I have seen girls happy about their bridesmaid dress. The bride did a great job of picking out dresses that the girls could actually wear outside of a wedding.
So now that the dresses are done, this is where I want to be
 Doesn't this look like the perfect place to relax?
 I am so ready for an ocean breeze and the sun on my face.
However, I can't seem to talk the hubs into going. We are 'kid-free' this weekend, so I thought what better time to go? We wouldn't have to worry about anyone running off or drowning...total relaxation....he can't bring himself to do it since the kids LOVE the beach too.
Well here's to dreaming:o)
At least I can relax knowing that I am done with dresses:o)
I'll have pics of the dresses as soon as the "I-do's" are said. I wanted a pic of all the girls in their dresses together.

One thing I have learned in this process is that I am so very thankful to be a stay-at-home mother. I am so glad that we are in a situation where the hubs is the sole provider and I am the care taker of the home. I wish that all mothers had the desire and ability to the same. I was constantly reminded over these past few weeks  why the Lord wants me in the home and not in the work place.
I have some great kids:o) Too bad they are preventing me from going to the beach;o)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Would you buy this investment?



I have posted the widely available VREB average price chart. Lets forget that this is housing and assume it is a stock that your brother-in-law suggests you buy. You pull up the price chart and see the vertical explosion, the singularity above...would you buy it?

We know all the reasons, HAM, land, low interest rates, CMHC etc etc. However this is the typical chart of a bubble reaching it's final and ultimate pinnacle. Where exactly that final point of maximum lunacy is, no-one knows, but when it reaches that point- the descent is USUALLY fast and furious.


If I had any cojones I would call this the top. In fact maybe I will anyway. Victoria is struggling, the OK is sitting on huge MOI, and in Whistler they had 7 sales last week with a 728 strong inventory. It would take them over two years to sell out at that rate. The Sunshine Coast sits at another huge MOI.

So here it is..I thought RE was over-priced in 2007/8 and a crash was coming. It came and was stopped dead in it's tracks by the government shenanigans. I posted that the crazy low rates and the games with the CMHC may arrest the decline and some people may want to to buy in here. It did and prices were off to the races. With hindsight I should have listened to my own advice.

Now I think we have reached the maximum point of unaffordability. I could be wrong. There could be another huge influx of Chinese investors, or the Government could back-track and reverse the few changes it made to reverse it's own mistakes, or the Bank of Canada, having talked the talk on inflation could cave in completely.

All of that is possible, which is why prognosticating is so hard.

However I think we have reached the high-water mark on average price in Vancouver.

If May is not the highest point, then the blog will shut down in July after the June numbers come out.